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Justifying Georgian Luxury

In 1772 jeweller James Cox opened a Museum in London’s Spring Gardens which became the most popular show in the capital to the extent it became known as ‘The Museum’. It displayed ornate  jewelled automata in an opulent setting and charged a massive half a guinea (10/6d) entry. Fanny Burney mentioned it in her novel … Continue reading

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Eighteenth century England produced a lot of child proteges who were often put on display by their partents and guardians in a way that to modern eyes seems like exploitation, but for families of humble birth could provide a welcome income. Some went on to achieve well deserved success such as the future President of … Continue reading

Lessons from History – Transatlantic Problems

The problems of Brexit and the impending US Presidential elections seem to be tearing the UK and USA apart. As is so often the case, these problems are nothing new – England suffered 2 centuries of discord following the Reformation, when church power collapsed, plunging the country into a time of ignorance, mismanagement and the … Continue reading

Aida versus Political Correctness

Last week the papers ran yet another story that makes me fear for the future of this country. A student production of Aida has been cancelled due to charges of “cultural appropriation’, as the leading roles were likely to be played by white actors. The production was not to be the original, by Verdi, but … Continue reading

Women of Elizabeth’s England

This is some more from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. He mentions several times of how much freedom women had, perhaps reflecting the fact that a woman was on the throne, but I suspect also there were more of them than men, so strength in numbers. There are times, however, when I wonder if … Continue reading

Law Abiding in Yorkshire, 1766

This is from the Newcastle Chronicle of July 1766. It is noteworthy as soon after this, the south and west of England erupted in food riots. This region remained calm as they ate mostly potatoes instead of suffering speculation in wheat which caused bread to skyrocket in price. York, July 22 Last Friday the assizes … Continue reading

How Old and Ugly Were Witches?

I have always worried at the bad images we have of witches, especially those who were punished for their ‘crimes’. The image of an ugly, isolated old woman just doesn’t seem to fit many of the cases, in particular the famous Pendle witches. The old hags seem more cartoon characters. Many pamphlets and ballads were … Continue reading

Antony Sher on Falstaff

Sher is one of our finest and most knowledgeable Shakespearean actors, and was featured in the i’s series on the Bard’s plays. I saw him play Falstaff in the RSC production. He makes some very good points not just on the subject but much wider aspects of characters: Falstaff is an astonishing Lord of Misrule. … Continue reading

Tracey on Dennis Potter

In Tracey Thorne’s book, ‘Naked At the Albert Hall’ she ranges over a lot of examples of music and song, but here she refers to Dennis Potter’s final interview with Melvyn Bragg in 1994, discussing the use of lip-synching in ‘Pennies from Heaven’ an this echoes what I heard Ray Davies say about the death … Continue reading